En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - September 26, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Replacements for non-native purple fountain grass in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi-- Just found out that the purple fountain grass I bought (fortunately on sale) is a) not native and b)not perennial. Dang it! If I can find the pots I'm taking it back. I have a part-shade well-drained corner of a yard on the Williamson/Travis county line, in Wells Branch. There is a happy native Anacacho orchid tree there already, which I plan to keep. Can you make some suggestions for drought/shade tolerant natives that won't be too high? Also need to be kid-friendly (not too many thorns or particularly poisonous). Thanks so much!

ANSWER:

Sorry you got a non-native grass; unfortunately, most plant sales places are not familiar with the difference between native and non-native, and the plants are not marked that way. We're going to suggest some grasses native to Central Texas that do well in part shade, have no damaging or poisonous parts, and should be a good complement to your Bauhinia lunarioides (Texasplume), also known as Texas orchid tree. When you are shopping for native plants, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type your town and state in the"Enter Search Location" box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area.

Our favorite grass for shade or part shade is Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats). It is perennial, growing to 2 to 4 ft tall. It has graceful, drooping foliage with the "oats" on the end, very decorative. Another grass that is graceful and attractive and grows well in shade is Nassella tenuissima (finestem needlegrass). The blades are not really needle-like, and we don't think they would hurt any curious children. Finally, a low shrub that does well in shade or part shade is Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry). It is deciduous, but has beautiful purple-pink berries which the wildlife love, but are not considered harmful if eaten. Follow each link to a page on that particular plant with information on ultimate size, culture and growing conditions.

Since you live in Austin, we hope you're planning to attend the Fall Plant Sale at the Wildflower Center. We just checked the projected plant list for this sale, and all four of the plants we have been discussing are on that list. This is not a guarantee that the plants will be available; the list has to be updated as information becomes available. It's a wonderful opportunity to catch up on plants native to Central Texas, talk to volunteers and staff people who love native plants, and visit tents from the Native Plant Society of Texas and Native American Seeds. The plant list has 323 plants on it, and there will be literally thousands of plants for sale in several container sizes. 

Pictures from our Native Plant Image Gallery


Bauhinia lunarioides

Chasmanthium latifolium

Nassella tenuissima

Callicarpa americana

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Disease in non-native pittisporum in Central Texas
July 13, 2008 - Is there a disease in central Texas (Round Rock) affecting dwarf pittosporum? Specifically, clusters of dead leaves and much leaf drop. Some white, cottony residue on wood but not sure if it is mealyb...
view the full question and answer

New growth on Amur Maple turning black in McPherson, Kansas.
June 29, 2010 - Re: Amur Maple bushes Approximately 2 yrs old, 4 ft tall. New growth at the end of some branches is turning black. Plants are mulched with grass clippings. We live in Kansas. Thanks for any info....
view the full question and answer

Cat eating yucca stalks in England
May 07, 2013 - Is it safe for my cat to eat yucca as she is being sick and its hard to stop her
view the full question and answer

Absence of blooms in non-native Rosa rugosa
June 30, 2008 - I have a rosa rugosa in my yard that was here when I moved in..and it has never bloomed. It is in a sunny spot, but there are never any flowers..not even a single bud on this trailing plant. I cut it ...
view the full question and answer

Lookink for bulbs of German Blue Bells in Weatherford, TX.
July 09, 2012 - I am searching for a plant that is called "German Blue Bells". They are tubular as seed. Like tiny iris only bands around the tubular. The flower looks like a morning glory with an off set bloom....
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center